It may be your first year celebrating Christmas without your spouse, or it may be one of many. However the process of gift giving doesn’t get easier with time. This delicate part of the holidays must be handled with care, especially for families that celebrate separately.
Openly Discuss All Gifting Plans With Your Spouse
Despite challenges you may have faced throughout the course of your marriage, separation and divorce, the holiday season requires collaboration and cooperation from ex spouses. If you do not routinely do so, chose a time to discuss the upcoming holiday season with your ex. Gift giving is an especially sensitive topic: you want to convey your love and admiration for your child, without tying love to materialism. You want to give your child holiday time with both parents, without having one holiday season “better” than the other.
Cross Reference Your Lists
Of the gifts you will be purchasing, make sure you and your spouse aren’t purchasing any of the same items. It’s likely you’ve seen the same wish list, so check in with one another to make sure there are no repeat presents.
This preparation and cooperation will go a long way not only in creating a comfortable, loving holiday season for your child, but also towards a long-term, co-operative parenting lifestyle.
Ensure one Family Doesn’t Over-Give
Another important consideration is the quantity of gifts each spouse will be giving. Setting a price limit is an effective way of making sure one spouse doesn’t over-give. Although presents are only material, and in no way a measure of how much a child is loved, gifts can impress expectations and comparisons on children, especially at a young age. To avoid favouritism and unequal gift giving, discuss your lists and budget well in advance of your holiday shopping.
This consideration should be extended to grandparents and close family members. Kindly explain that as a separated family, you’re doing your best to give your child happy, meaningful holidays with both sides of the family. Ideally your extended family will understand, and will gift-give within your agreed budget.
Discuss Gifts for one Another, and Step-Parents if Needed
Your children may express interest in purchasing presents for your ex-spouse. Although you personally may have anticipated an end to gift-giving one another, it’s important to consider your child’s best interest. In the interest of maintaining normalcy, help your child to plan, purchase and wrap a gift for your ex. Your level of involvement will depend on your child’s age, but an encouragement towards your child’s relationship with your ex spouse conveys support and amicability for maintaining the family unit.
As with gifts for your children, discuss this gift-giving ahead of time. Set a limit to buy for one another, and work with your child to make both of their holiday festivities special.
Reinforce That the Holidays Aren’t About Presents
The advice mentioned above is important to hosting loving, meaningful holiday gift exchanges. We’ve highlighted important considerations because many families decide to exchange gifts this season. However the holiday season isn’t about presents - it’s about spending quality time with your children. By following these suggestions for non-competitive gift giving, children can focus on the quality time they get to share with each parent. Remind your children how much they mean to you, and that time spent together is truly what makes the holidays special. Show your child what you mean by making time to hang out, go on adventures, and watch movies together. Your attention and sincere interest will show them how much they mean to you.
Put Your Differences Behind You
Co-operating with your spouse isn’t always easy. Depending on the terms of your separation, it may be complicated even to have a discussion about the holidays. During this season especially, put your differences behind you. You may no longer be married, but you are both loving parents. Your child will benefit from seeing the two of you work together, with the best interest of your child at heart.
If you’re still undergoing the separation process, see how Thistoo can help.